The banks of the Delaware River provide a peaceful place for daydreaming.
Rhododendrons in bloom at the back of the house.
The kitchen and dining area have windows on nearly all sides, at eye level so there is always a view of the lush nature just outside. Inside, the concrete floor is painted a deep lake green.
Twenty-two years ago, when designer Victoria Bartlett saw the 1970s A-frame on the Delaware River, she knew it had potential, even though it looked “kind of creepy.” She had been looking for a country home upstate, and a friend in the fashion industry convinced her to come in with them on a property on the New York-Pennsylvania border. They subdivided the property, with her friends taking the farmhouse, and Bartlett taking the A-frame. “The best thing was that it was on the river, so it had a great vibe and such a deep natural feel. Water is life-giving. That was important to me.” Once the purchase was made, she proceeded to gut the house (which had been divided into two apartments), open up windows and create a new, more open plan with a better use of space. But she kept the green exterior the way it was. “I love the fact that it is green. It vanishes into the nature around it.”
The living room is saturated with light, and includes many of the furnishings that the designer loves, including a Gio Ponti chair with a bright red cushion, and a midcentury lamp and table by George Nelson for Herman Miller. The stairs are like vertebrae, connecting the levels of the home.
Bartlett is no stranger to the effects of color and design. She earned a degree from the London College of Fashion in 1982, assisted Couturier Rhavis of London, and later she partnered with designer Jeffrey Costello in New York creating a collection called BC in 1990. She was also a fashion editor at Allure, Interview and BIG, and worked on editorial concepts for French Vogue, ID, Italian Vogue and many others. She has styled a plethora of bold-faced names, including A-listers such as Madonna, Scarlett Johansson, Ed Norton and Tilda Swinton, and she has been a lead creative on brands such as Christian Lacroix, Calvin Klein, DKNY and Miu Miu, helping to visualize and develop their ethos.
In 2003, she made the leap and created her own brand, VPL, which blended lingerie with sportswear for a utilitarian collection that combined comfort with functionality and fashion. Since exiting the brand in 2016, Bartlett has continued to work on new projects, including an S/S2018 collaboration with Stella Ishii; costuming for the stage and film; as well as collaborations with artists like Kai Althoff for a recent MOMA installation. Her couture and fashion journalism aesthetic are a throughline in her interior design as well. “My DNA and my aesthetic are closely tied in both worlds. I have a very strong color field that I am known for in design, and it translates into the work I do in interiors.” The designer is particularly fond of nudes and uses them frequently in her interior design work.
A view of the designer’s study, with her 1950s desk and Eames desk chair, a space-age overhead lamp purchased in Milan and two plexiglass egg-shaped chairs. A giant bear sleeps nearby, created by artist Tamar Mogendorff.
Bartlett loves the color green and it is used liberally throughout the home. In the bedroom, a Victorian nursing chair that belonged to her parents sits next to a 1960s wave chaise covered in a mix of Indian and folk art textiles.
After the A-frame was gutted, Barlett restructured the inside with an eye toward maximizing features, such as a cathedral ceiling on the main floor that was previously hidden by drop ceiling panels. She also added windows all around to allow light into the rooms. “There is a sense of being within nature, as opposed to just observing it. With all the windows you are not walled in, you are part of it,” remarks Bartlett.
Expanding the little home’s footprint meant adding an extension in the back of the house for the kitchen on the ground floor, and above it, a screened porch. “I really didn’t want to overdo it with the design. I kept an open, modernist feel to contrast with the country location, but the design is still very warm.” Bartlett used a color palette of muted brights, including a saffron shade in the home office area, and a soft green in the bedrooms. “The saffron shade almost turns green in the summer because of the reflections from the leaves.” The rest of the home is a combination of neutrals like light grey and decorator’s white, which the designer prefers because it is less harsh than optic white. The home has nautical touches in keeping with its proximity to the Delaware River, like marine wire around the deck, and a round nautical-style window in a downstairs bedroom that brings in light from the room beyond.In the main floor guest bedroom, midcentury furnishings mix with folk art textiles and bags, and Japanese kimonos.
The master bedroom looks out over the living room, and includes the designer’s cabinet of curiosities which houses textiles, glass, apothecary instruments and assorted oddities collected over time. The room is always flooded with light.
Looking down from the master bedroom into the living room. The designer’s favorite winter hibernation spot. The silk rug, a gift from Bartlett’s parents, is from India. The throw pillows are from her VPL line, and the green sculpture on the mantel is by Orly Genger.
The home’s warm feel comes from a mix of color and natural finishes, and a layered mix of vintage and modern décor. Adds Bartlett, “I love to combine old and new from many periods. When you integrate antiques in a modern way, they become timeless. And I love to use pigment colors. In London, no one uses color and I don’t understand it. It makes you feel alive!”
“The previous iteration of this loft space was absolutely awful,” comments Bartlett. “The designers should have been fired.” When the designer took over the tiny space in a 1924 Brooklyn building that once housed a chocolate factory, she discovered that all the “inner workings” – the pipes and columns – had been covered over, removing almost a foot off the ceiling height and taking precious space from the overall floor plan. She removed all the coverings and exposed the guts of the industrial space. “We exposed all of those elements and forced the dynamics of it to integrate with the architecture and the linear context.” Using tricks like incorporating the column into the island and creating a hallway with storage cabinets from the office/guest room area, Bartlett was able to have just as much storage for her things as she had in her previous home – a townhouse in Boerum Hill. The key for Bartlett was structural minimalism. She kept the color palette to nude tones, colors that resonate with Bartlett in her fashion design as well as interiors. “The nude color was very important to make the space feel bigger. Even the red oak floor was bleached and whitewashed to give it a soft blush color.”A vintage thrift store sofa is shaded by a fig tree, a gift from model Belgium Delphine. Bartlett’s collection of artifacts and objects from her travels around the world during her fashion career adds texture and warmth. Steel bookshelves line the wall, and the mix of cushions add color and include a bright yellow pillow from Versace and a red-and-white pillow from a friend in Tel Aviv.
Open shelving adds visual interest and resembles an art display.
The plywood and red oak flooring throughout the apartment is treated to give it a soft blush color. In the bedroom, the railing is made from industrial steel mesh, and blurs the line of sight for privacy, while letting ample light in from the large living room windows below.
In the upstairs sleeping loft, the architects convinced her to use industrial mesh grid for a protective rail that also affords privacy. “When you look through it from the bedroom you can see everything. But when you look up there and it’s dark in the bedroom, it blurs so = you can’t actually see through it.” In the kitchen, the plumbing comes down from the ceiling and becomes an industrial sculpture. Bartlett quips, “That is something we copied from [artist] Donald Judd, but it really works here. The pipes become sculpture!”Looking down from the loft into the kitchen, the blond wood midcentury table is by Paul Cobb, surrounded by chairs with black vinyl seats by Arthur Umanoff. Over the table hangs a large black painting by Ugo Rondinone.
A mix of midcentury antiques and modern accessories and art. The floor lamp is a 1960s chrome triennial orbital lamp, and the desk is midcentury vintage. The smaller desk is by Arthur Umanoff, and the work of art atop the desk is by Elliott Puckette.
Architecture by New Affiliates.
Photography by Christian Kilrain Carter Coleman.
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